Archive for the 'M.S. Rau Blog' Category

Mastering Nature: Monet and the Seascape

September 18th, 2015 | posted by Ludovic Rousset

 

An important and extraordinary work entitled “Falaise” by Claude Monet

An important and extraordinary work entitled “Falaise” by Claude Monet

“I know that to paint the sea really well, you need to look at it every hour of every day in the same place so that you can understand its way in that particular spot; and that is why I am working on the same motifs over and over again, four or six times even.” – Claude Monet

Coastal landscape paintings have long existed as a popular motif in the history of art, with its earliest forms harkening back to frescos from Minoan Greece. A tradition that saw numerous evolutions over the centuries, landscape painting underwent perhaps its greatest transformation in 19th century France with the onset of radical a new art movement –  Impressionism. Highly popular yet remarkably controversial, Impressionist artists turned away from traditional subjects and methods of representation, instead elevating ordinary subject matter into the realm of fine art. Thus, the landscape scene was elevated to high art status, achieving new artistic heights through the impressionists unique depiction of light and atmosphere.

This is one of Monet’s paintings of the small seaside resort of Pourville-sur-Mer in northern France

This is one of Monet’s paintings of the small seaside resort of Pourville-sur-Mer in northern France

Leading Impressionist artist Claude Monet was among the first to pioneer new techniques of painting outdoors en plein air. In doing so, he was able to emulate on canvas the most ephemeral, natural elements in the changing times of the day in a way that contrasted the stark, studio method of earlier Romantic and Academic painters.

Impressionist painters sought to capture the optical effects of light, the play of the sun’s rays, and the transient effects of light on objects through vibrant colors and loose brushwork. Artists were now interpreting the fleeting atmospheric changes that were right before them. Clarity of form, and symmetrical, linear forms that dominated academic painting were abandoned in favor of a more naturalistic, open compositions. Now, a viewer would be able to fully experience sensory effect of the scene right before their eyes.

Stamp signed “Claude Monet” (lower right); Oil on canvas

Stamp signed “Claude Monet” (lower right); Oil on canvas

Monet’s Falaise, 1882, is part of a series that represents the seaside resort of Pourville sur Mer. A huge cliff dominates the composition and Monet’s loose strokes effectively capture the shadow and ephemeral effects of reality. The cliff displays a remarkable energy, encompassed by Monet’s fervent, passionate brushwork that parallels the sensory experience of standing before such a monumental landscape. Monet uses an impressionist palette of muted greys, whites, and creams to capture the hazy, vast, natural scene before him. The result is a visceral scene, overwhelmed by the arresting, steep cliff hovering over the detached water below.

Opulence Defined: The Kashmir Sapphire

September 11th, 2015 | posted by Bill Rau
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Immense rarity and beauty define this awe-inspiring untreated 18.50-carat Kashmir sapphire. This emerald-cut natural wonder is accompanied by 1.30 carats of diamonds and set in platinum and 22K yellow gold.

Veiled by its legendary reputation and virtually unobtainable rarity, Kashmir sapphires are counted alongside the finest diamonds and Burma rubies in terms of scarcity. The mere mention of the term “Kashmir” is synonymous with the ultimate sapphire, possessing an incomparably deep, velvety blue color that seemingly glows from within.

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Kashmir sapphires are one of the scarcest stones in the world, and to find one of this monumental size, certified to be unenhanced, is extraordinarily rare.

Discovered around 1880 in the city of Kashmir located in the northwest corner of India, the historic Kashmir minds are imbedded thousands of feet high in the Himalayas. The heyday of sapphire mining lasted between 1882 until 1887, and no significant deposits have been found since. In other words, the scant few of true Kashmir sapphires that are available today were likely mined over 100 years ago.

Weighing an astonishing 18.50 carats, this incredible Kashmir Sapphire Ring is the star of M.S. Rau Antiques selection of important colored gemstones. This emerald-cut rarity achieves its prized velvet-like blue hue without having undergone any type of color-enhancing treatment. Even the certificate of authenticity from the American Gemological Laboratories concurs by stating “The combination of size and origin for the sapphire described in this report signifies a gem worthy of distinction.” Certified to be of Kashmir origin and completely untreated, a breathtaking jewel of this type and caliber is simply never seen on the market. Accompanied also by certifications from the Swiss Gemological Institute and Gübelin Gemlab, this Kashmir sapphire is an undeniable masterpiece of nature.

Just one look at this jewel and it is clear to see why sapphires have been revered for thousands of years. Believed to represent divine favor, truth, loyalty and sincerity, the hypnotic beauty of the Kashmir sapphire is beyond compare.

The Lore of the Sapphire: September Birthstone

September 9th, 2015 | posted by Phillip Youngberg

Sensational and breathtaking, the sapphire is truly one of a kind. For centuries the magnificent stone has symbolized nobility, truth, sincerity, and royalty. Beginning with ancient Greece through the Middle Ages, wealthy citizens wore sapphires as protection against harm and to foster peace with one’s enemies. In the modern era, the sapphire encapsulates chic elegance, a notion epitomized by Princess Diana’s stunning blue sapphire engagement ring.

A rare Ceylon pink sapphire captivates in this exceptional ring

A rare Ceylon pink sapphire captivates in this exceptional ring

Throughout its existence, this classic gemstone has always been associated with its most common color – a stunning deep blue. Yet, the family of sapphires is quite large, with hues that span the color spectrum. A stone of great versatility, the sapphire can be violet, green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, and even shades of grey or brown. With each color comes its own quality variation, mineral composition, and specific market. What each has in common, however, is its intense durability, measuring a 9 out of 10 on the MOHS scale of mineral hardness – an extraordinary rating.

The pink sapphire is among the rarest and most desirable of these fancy colored sapphires, and are remarkably popular as a substitute for pink diamonds. This color of this extraordinary gemstone can range from red to purple through lighter peach tones, with weak to strong color saturation. What is most highly desirable in pink sapphires, however, is bright color saturation and incredible clarity. The unmistakable brilliant pink coloring is evident in this rare Bubblegum pink sapphire ring. At 16.37 carats, this bright pink gemstone hails from the coveted Ceylon region in Sri Lanka, a mine renowned for producing some of the most extraordinary sapphires in the world.  This exceptional gemstone is untreated and certified by C. Dunaigre Counsulting, meaning its remarkable beauty is completely natural. This impeccable stone is flanked by 2.06 carats of shield -ut white diamonds, and is set in a classic platinum and 18K yellow gold setting.

This untreated gem features a cushion shape and a modified brilliant/step cut

This untreated gem features a cushion shape and a modified brilliant/step cut

The remarkable range of unique colors of sapphires is also evident in this eye-catching green stone. While green sapphires typically range from light to dark bluish green through yellowish green, the most rare are rich greens that hint at bluish hues. This 4.81-carat green sapphire ring is comprised of 1.05 carats of white diamonds in a platinum and 18K gold setting. Certified by the GemResearch Swisslab and C. Dunaige, this green sapphire is unheated and completely natural. In an impeccable cushion cut, this deep green sapphire displays a rich viridescent beauty that few stones achieve.

This gem is a brilliant blue color outdoors, but takes on a purplish hue under incandescent light

Weighing 21.41 carats, the sapphire is joined by approximately 0.44 carats of white diamonds

Undeniably, the most rare and desirable of these colored gemstones are color-change sapphires. With the ability to change color under different lighting conditions, this sapphire is truly a natural wonder. In daylight, the remarkable stone displays brilliant cornflower blue hue. While under incandescent light, however, the color changes to a deep, reddish-purple. A true wonder and rarity, this stone is certified by AGL to be completely natural and untreated. In a classic platinum setting, this sapphire boasts rarity and immense importance.

Exquisite Craftsmanship: Remington Rifle Canes

August 28th, 2015 | posted by Danielle Halikias
Topped by the classic hound head, this walking stick is covered in a protective plant resin called gutta-percha and is finished by a silver collar.

Topped by the classic hound head, this walking stick is covered in a protective plant resin called gutta-percha and is finished by a silver collar.

The oldest and largest gun maker in the country, the Remington Arms Company still domestically produces products, leading the arms industry in quality and innovation. Beginning with Eliphalet Remington II’s belief that he could produce a gun finer than any money could buy, the Remington Arms Company was established in 1816 and became an overnight success. Now the only U.S. manufacturer that produces both firearms and ammunition, the company played a significant role providing ammunition and arms in both world wars. Yet perhaps their most valuable, recognizable and unique products remain their remarkable rifle canes.

The famous Remington dog head handle surmounts this large percussion rifle cane by the Remington Arms Company

The famous Remington dog head handle surmounts this large percussion rifle cane by the Remington Arms Company

Beginning in the Victorian era, any well-established, respected man would carry a walking stick: a symbol of wealth, taste, and class. While the concept of masterfully disguising a firearm inside the shaft of a walking stick had been seen earlier in Europe, it was not until John F. Thomas, master mechanic at the Remington Company, that this technique was perfected. These types of cane guns were used by men as protection as well as a stylish accessory, as street crime and violence was on the rise in the mid-19th century. In 1858, Thomas received a patent (#19,328) for his “Rifle Cane,” a percussion fired single-shot cane rifle. These rifle canes received high praise and exposure due to their intricacy and taste in design. Within a year, Remington Arms was selling these gun canes to an eager public. It sold well—a successful novelty that any gentleman of means and distinction would have been pleased to own.

Unlike their European counterparts, the entire firing mechanism in these Remington rifle canes is completely hidden by the upper shaft of the cane. On the lower part of the cane lies the inconspicuous trigger button. Remington rifle canes were made with a variety of handles, including ball & claw, dog’s head, full curve, curve with flat gripping area, bulbous-shape, and L-shape – with the dog’s head handle remaining the most recognizable. The Remington rifle cane shaft was covered with either a hard rubber gutta-percha or vulcanized rubber.

It is estimated that only 1,000 of these canine-form rifle canes were produced

It is estimated that only 1,000 of these canine-form rifle canes were produced

At M.S. Rau Antiques, we have two rifle canes that speak to the mastery behind Remington Rifle Canes. An extraordinary rarity, this dog’s head rifle cane depicts the traditional Remington dog symbol as the cane handle. Whimsical, yet emblematic of the Remington Company, this gun cane is covered in gutta-percha and is finished by an elegant silver collar. The ferrule is engraved with “J.F. Thomas, patent Feb’y 9 1858” with the serial number “22.” Similarly, this bold dog topped gun cane boasts exceptionality and is distinctive to any similar counterparts and is in incredible working condition. To fire each of these gun canes, one simply pulls the handle back to a cocked position, aims the cane and presses the small button on the upper shaft.

It is estimated that only 1,000 of these canine rifle canes were produced. Very limited numbers of these canes have survived, making existing examples such as this an extraordinary rarity. Today, these rifle canes are highly prized by collectors, cane enthusiasts, and Remington aficionados.

More than a Prime Minister: The Talent of Sir Winston Churchill

August 18th, 2015 | posted by Lyndon Lasiter
This stunning landscape of the south of France is by Sir Winston Churchill

This stunning landscape of the south of France is by Sir Winston Churchill

Statesman, Politician, Historical Giant. Viewed through the long lens of history, Winston Churchill is heralded as one of the greatest wartime leaders the world has seen. A Renaissance man in the truest sense of the word, his contribution to history extended beyond the realm of the state, civil matters, and its people. For Churchill made a lasting impact on the realm of art history as well through his greatest passion: painting.

Painting was a dominating passion for Churchill in the last half of his life

Painting was a dominating passion for Churchill in the last half of his life

Broad brushstrokes and vivid color are characteristics of the statesman's artwork

Broad brushstrokes and vivid color are characteristics of the statesman’s artwork

In June 1915, Churchill resigned as First Lord of Admiralty following the Dardanelles Campaign, seeking respite from the dark, heavy affairs of political matters. He was forty and exhausted. In spite of (or perhaps due to) a political and state career that would give him his everlasting, Churchill desired a relief from the profound depression that plagued him. He quit London and rented a farm in Godalming for the summer with his wife Clementine. Among the company was Churchill’s sister-in-law Gwendoline, a talented watercolorist. In long leisure moments contemplating the future of the frightful, unfolding war, Churchill observed his sister-in-law’s artistic endeavors, which quickly attracted him to the quiet endeavor of painting. With the same determination that made him a master politician, Churchill set about to master the art of oil painting. His daughter Mary noted the effect of painting on her father, “Problems of perspective and color, light and shade gave him respite form dark worries, heavy burdens and the clatter of political strife… enabling him to confront storms, ride out depressions and rise above the rough passages of political life.”

Signed “WSC” (lower left); Oil on canvas

Signed “WSC” (lower left); Oil on canvas

Churchill was particularly attracted to sun-drenched, sweeping landscape scenes in the South of France, Morocco, and Egypt. Bursting with color and vibrancy, his dramatic brushwork fully embodied the rejuvenation Churchill himself felt while painting. Finding hours of occupation and pleasure in the activity, Churchill was on his way to becoming an accomplished artist. One particular piece displays the bright, peaceful mood he felt while painting: A Distant View of a Town in the South of France. Highly personal, this bold, colorful canvas represents all trademarks of Churchill’s artistic style. Full, saturated yellows occupy the foreground that lead into dense greens and gushing blues. Regarding the work, one can almost feel the breeze from southern France escape the canvas. Afternoon shadows bounce off the canvas, while thick strokes of color create an overwhelmingly peaceful, beautifully composed image. Light and airy, this piece is not only a representation of Churchill’s talent in artistry, but the peace and solace he felt while painting.

“Happy are the painters,” Churchill once described his relationship with painting, “for they shall never be lonely: light and color, peace and hope will keep them company to the end – or almost to the end of day.” In a sequence of resiliency and rejuvenation, Churchill found more than a hobby, but a passion that sustained him.

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